In a time when the term entrepreneurship is being co-opted for just about any purpose, there is another title, intrapreneur, that is steadily gaining traction in the circles of business-minded individuals.
What is intrapreneurship?
The term Intrapreneurship was first used by American entrepreneur Gifford Pinchot III in 1978 claiming that
“Intrapreneurs are employees who do for corporate innovation what an entrepreneur does for his or her start-up”.Gifford Pinchot III
While the term didn’t exactly fade into obscurity, it didn’t really take off either. However, it has had a recent resurgence in the business ecosystem and can be counted on as one of the latest buzzwords.
So what separates intrapreneurship from entrepreneurship?
If entrepreneurship is agency and a spirit one develops in the pursuit of making a business, then intrapreneurship, as a concept, must be the drive that compels people to take ownership of their work even when they don’t necessarily have equity within that organization.
These individuals use the resources at their disposal to act as owners would and utilize unique approaches to bring value to their firms at large. Their role cannot simply be defined by their job description, intrapreneurs bring change and healthy work culture to their jobs. Within companies, the number of entrepreneurs is limited by how equity is divided but the number of intrapreneurs is only limited by the number of employees at a company that are willing to step up to the challenge.
What are some traits commonly associated with intrapreneurs?
- An entrepreneurial spirit
Intrapreneurs must obviously embody an entrepreneurial spirit even if they don’t own a business! They often have a strong sense of how businesses should work and the needs that must be fulfilled for the business to succeed. This helps intrapreneurs anticipate threats or opportunities and work effectively to mitigate or capitalize upon them.
- Highly innovative and creative
Intrapreneurs are incredibly valuable to firms because of their ability to think critically and find unique solutions to difficult problems. They often bring fresh perspectives that allow them to look at issues at hand and find new ways of tackling them. This means that they have to be incredibly resourceful within the constraints that are given to them.
- Not afraid to take (calculated) risks
If an intrapreneur is expected to go above and beyond then sometimes that means that they have to be able to take leaps of faith in their ideas and follow through on them. This can be a daunting thought, especially in a corporate environment where maintaining the status quo and prioritizing one’s job security is an incredibly pervasive ideology. Intrapreneurs remain intrepid in the face of doubt and are willing to take a risk. Oftentimes, it pays off quite handsomely for them!
- An insatiable desire to learn and grow
Intrapreneurs are always on a quest for edification and developing themselves as people and professionals. They are the kinds of people that are consistently reading whatever they can and humble enough to ask questions when they don’t know something. An intrapreneur is never satisfied with the scope of their knowledge and remains a scholar for life. This scholarly approach to life proves incredibly helpful for an intrapreneur’s ability to come up with poignant solutions to problems presented to them.
- Collaborative in nature
Being able to work exceptionally well with others is a must for intrapreneurs. Intrapreneurs are known to be able to fit all the pieces whether they be ideas or people. This means being able to actively listen to input from other people and take advantage of the help that the talents of others offer. Considering that intrapreneurs can be anybody in a company’s hierarchy, they must be able to work well with others going up or down the ladder.
To better understand what an intrapreneur is, it is worthwhile to look at some prominent examples of people behaving as such. Of course, one does not have to have the feats of the following individuals to be considered a successful intrapreneur.
However, these individuals can absolutely be regarded as incredible examples of what it means to embody the spirit of intrapreneurship.
Balmer joined Microsoft in 1980 as it’s 30th employee as a humble general manager. He would prove to be an astute businessman with a sense of market trends and opportunities. His responsibilities grew over time allowing him to manage more and more divisions of Microsoft until officially becoming Chief Executive Officer 2 years later in January 2000. As CEO, Balmer would take Microsoft to new heights and help it maintain its dominance in the tech space.
Sony’s Ken Kutaragi
Kutaragi was an engineer at Sony credited with inventing the Sony Playstation. He was able to draw up his designs for the PlayStation because of his time spent tinkering with his daughter’s Nintendo console. A great example of the quintessential intrapreneur quality of intellectual curiosity. He was also described as being “an excellent problem solver and a forward-thinking engineer”, qualities we know to be associated with intrapreneurs. He would go on to serve as CEO of Sony’s video game division and the PlayStation series of consoles are the best-selling of all time.
Google’s Paul Buchheit
Buchheit was Google’s 23rd employee, working as a software engineer. Google had a “20% time” policy at the time where employees could work on creative projects. Buchheit, with his allotted creative time, was able to come up with the first ideation of Gmail, now the world’s most popular email provider that serves more than 1.4 billion people worldwide. What an incredible use of his free time!
Texas Instrument’s Larry Hornbeck
Hornbeck was a researcher for Texas Instrument where he was working on a project that looked to use very small mirrors to direct photons. The Digital MicroMirror Device was the outcome of a decade of research, however, Hornbeck realized there was a great use for the device beyond what it was intended for. He realized that the DMD could dramatically reduce the cost and size of digital projectors, for instance, the ones they utilized in the film industry. The DMD became instrumental for the next generation of digital projectors, earning Hornbeck an Emmy award for his engineering efforts.
W.L. Gore’s David Myers
Similar to Google, W.L. Gore had a policy that encouraged their employees to work independently on any creative ventures they wanted to pursue. One employee, David Myers, realized that the company’s ePTFE coating could be used to make pliable yet firm guitar strings. So with that in mind, he worked with the company to introduce W.L. Gore’s “ELIXIR Strings” to the market. The guitar strings are now the best selling guitar strings in the market!
Although a lot of the traits of an intrapreneur are somewhat intrinsic, there are certain things that anybody can do that can help prepare them for success in the work environment.
Here are some tips that might help you prepare to succeed in an intrapreneurial fashion.
Develop a close relationship with your work
Your work is your BABY and you should treat it like one. You need to be attentive and nurture it as you would a child. Take complete ownership of your work so that your performance is not dependent on anyone else. Taking accountability is useful for holding yourself to a standard of your choosing and understanding what your work means to you. Go above and beyond for your baby!
Delineate goals for yourself and make new ones when you reach them
Sometimes, even more, important than reaching your goals is being able to set new ones for yourself. It’s nice to be able to meet a goal but too much complacency and idleness can be detrimental for the ambitious professional. Setting new goals can help one on a steady path to new heights. It’s said that if you’re not moving forward, you’re falling behind.
Read, read, and read some more
Subscribe to newspapers, read scholarly articles, essentially; do everything you can to consume as much material as you can. This is important for keeping you informed on happenings in the business and greater world. It’s also a great way to keep your brain engaged and sharp. This might not make you an erudite, but you’ll at least be an informed denizen within your community.
Learn to actively listen
Being a high functioning intrapreneur means able to collaborate with a range of people and being able to effectively lead.
How are you going to be able to lead and collaborate with others if you can’t hear their input over the sound of your voice or thoughts?
You’re not going to be an expert on all matters so being able to draw from the multifaceted experience of others will help you cover any gaps in your knowledge and position you to receive important insights that might be useful at a later time.
Business study programs where one can learn about entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship are becoming increasingly popular among those coming to Los Angeles for educational purposes. For many of them, this can mean anything from pursuing MBAs at schools such as USC and UCLA or simply enrolling in a short MBA alternative program.
Is a so-called MBA alternative program really worth it in Los Angeles?
Let’s dig into the reasons why an in-person entrepreneurship program in Los Angeles has its advantages
What are the advantages of enrolling in an Intrapreneurship program in Los Angeles?
- The entrepreneurship hub has been exploding in Los Angeles over the past decade with no signs of slowing down any time soon. “Silicon Beach” is quickly becoming the home of the most innovative startups in the world.
- Some of these individuals are young entrepreneurs looking to gain practical business knowledge without the time and money constraint that MBA demands. MBAs cost $60,000 on average and as much as $110,000 at top schools
- Requirements for full-time Grad programs can be incredibly stringent, requiring time-consuming standardized testing (GMAT, GRE, etc) and application processes that can be very distracting for young founders
- Participants at the program will be able to live and work with other internationals and locals, like digital nomads
- Cost of living in LA is noticeably cheaper than in other high target cities for business such as San Francisco and New York
“We usually think that we should stay in our field of study when it comes to looking for a job or creating a career. According to this thought, I should have worked as a biologist. But things are different nowadays. There are a lot of new possibilities.”Read Andrea I. full interview: A career in the Big Pharma
One such possibility that many people are embracing is intrapreneurship. Corporations crave innovative ideas, but management is often prone to ask questions that kill innovation and evoke defensiveness.
Created for entrepreneurial-minded professionals, as well as aspiring managers looking to improve their approach to innovation, this program covers how to generate, develop and communicate ideas in an efficient and effective way.
Central to this is exploring how to see a challenge as a whole and work with opposing forces to generate innovative outcomes.
Participants learn the value of alternative views, contradictory data and the importance of giving and take.
Leaving with fresh insights and practical skills, participants learn how to embrace complexity, tolerate uncertainty and manage tension, and gain the tools to pursue ideas more confidently, including steps on how to transform ideas into something clear, meaningful and attainable.
Our offer to future intrapreneurs
M-ACCELERATOR’s Entrepreneurship Startup Program offers you a great opportunity to develop yourself professionally under the leadership of highly experienced mentors and advisors.
Throughout the program, you will gain incredible, transformative experiences, skills and knowledge that will hone your passion for intrapreneurship. At the program’s core is a regimen designed to instill solid business management skills and to teach innovative design tools.
In addition, you will learn how to effectively communicate your ideas and move them forward. The program is filled with hands-on workshops in each weekly ‘sprint’, covering a variety of topics ranging from business communication to digital marketing, resource management, and much more. All while in the company of a cohort of like-minded individuals that will become a valuable part of your personal and professional network.
Challenge yourself in one of the premier business ecosystems in the world and find out what kind of growth is in store for you.